What’s the Biggest Change in the Role of a CEO as a Startup Grows?
The women of the Young Entrepreneur Council weigh in on this question and offer advice to other founders of growing startups.
By the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC)
What’s the biggest change in the role of a CEO as a startup grows, and what advice would you offer other women in that position?
Dealing With Unexpected Challenges
In a dynamic growing business, the challenges you face as a CEO are constantly changing, and new surprises await at every turn. I’ve found it invaluable to build relationships with mentors — both women and men — with whom I can be completely honest about the most difficult hurdles I’m facing and trust them to offer insight and support.
- Martina Welke, @MartinaWelke (Co, founder, Zealyst)
Getting Systematic About Processes
As a startup transitions from the ideation and validation phase into its growth phase, one of the big challenges for founding CEOs might be the need to systematize all the processes. It can be tempting to get strict about your team’s to-do lists, but it’s important to find a balance between documenting each step and giving team members continued flexibility to be creative and innovative.
Doreen Bloch, @DoreenBloch, (CEO, Poshly)
Becoming a Public Figure
As a startup grows and gets more attention, the CEO is often given more attention, too. Just think of bigger companies and startups in the media; you probably know who the CEOs are. Hiring a speaking coach and doing media training can help you tremendously during your growth stage. It will prepare you for speaking engagements and answering questions you’ll be asked by the media.
Natalie MacNeil, @nataliemacneil, (Founder, She Takes on the World)
Balancing Your Personal Life
As women, we tend to want to do it all and juggle our personal and business lives with ease. As your business grows, those lines blur. I’ve always found it tough to juggle quality time in my personal relationships with all the time and energy required in my businesses. I continue to work on cutting myself slack and carving out time for myself and my personal life.
Darrah Brustein, @darrahb, (Founder, Finance Whiz Kids | Equitable Payments)
Becoming a Driver
In the early days of a company, each person — including the founders — are integral to taking action and doing. As a startup grows, it’s important to build a skilled and passionate team you trust. Then you become a conductor of the orchestra and inspire action and decision-making in others. The role evolves from focusing just on product and sales to personnel development and motivation.
Shradha Agarwal, @shr4dha, (Founder, ContextMedia)
As your business grows, you need to remember what you really want and what constitutes success for you. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should, and it’s important to stay true to yourself despite others’ expectations of you and your business.
Elizabeth Saunders, @RealLifeE, (Founder, Real Life E®)
Having a Hand in Everything
There aren’t many changes, but there’s absolutely more work. As CEOs, we have to be aware of the changes with digital media and social media and the effect those conversations have on the consumer experience. No matter the industry you work in, you have to be excited to wear all of the hats. From consumer to community manager, you have to be hands-on with your business development.
Rakia Reynolds (@rakiareynolds), (Owner, Skia Blue Media)
Keeping Tabs on Each Area of Business
In the beginning, you live every last detail about your product: engineering, finances, marketing and development. As the company grows, you have to delegate many of those details to capable people on your team. But you still have to know enough to keep tabs on what’s happening in every area of your business so you can respond quickly when things go awry. The key is to find the right balance.
Prerna Gupta, @prernagupta, (Chief Product Officer, Smule)
As women, we tend to commit to only what we feel confident about. This goes for financial projections, vision, strategy and all of the higher-level thinking aspects that come with being a CEO. However, it’s important to let ourselves think bigger and set targets high to excite our team and investors because our male CEO counterparts are shooting for the stars. We are just as capable!
Melissa Pickering, @melpick, (Founder, iCreate to Educate)
Learning to Delegate Tasks
As your company grows, you will bring on new staffers to handle the tasks that you once performed yourself. CEOs have to be comfortable with the idea of delegation and the reality that not everyone will do things the way that they do. Sometimes, CEOs have to allow staff to make mistakes to learn lessons. Micro-managing does not help employees think for themselves or navigate new challenges.
Brittany Hodak, @zinepack, (Co-founder, ‘ZinePak)
Asking for What You Want
As your startup grows, you have less time and more issues. As a female CEO, I have found it challenging but crucial to be direct about asking for what I want. From dealing with co-workers to vendors, you learn to lose your fear of coming across as pushy. Communicate what you want succinctly and clearly to help your business grow quickly and efficiently!
Emily Doubilet, @sustyemily, (Founder, Susty Party)
What’s your answer?
About the blogger: The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.